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Wind farm: Courtenay project still planned for fall

Officials with Geronimo Energy are still planning starting preliminary construction on the Courtenay Wind Farm Project this fall, according to Betsy Engelking, vice president of the company.

If constructed, the Courtenay Wind Farm could be the largest in North Dakota constructed under a single permit. It would produce 200 megawatts of power from 100 to 136 turbines.

"There really isn't an official status because we're working on a lot of different fronts," Engelking said. "We're working with additional parties in the area to resolve their concerns and we're making progress. We're working with (Stutsman) county to arrange a significant upgrade to about nine miles of road that we hope to begin work on this fall."

The road upgrade would allow the heavy trucks and equipment necessary for a wind farm construction project access to the area. Geronimo Energy plans to pay for the improvements as part of the project costs.

Engelking also said company officials are continuing to work with residents of the area about turbine locations. In July, Robert and Julie Sprague, owners of a private airstrip known as Sprague Airport, presented additional information to the North Dakota Public Service Commission. The information came after the PSC hearing on July 12, which was held at the Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center. The PSC voted at that time to consider the new information as part of the record and allowed Geronimo Energy to respond.

"The case is still pending before the PSC," said Jerry Lien, attorney for the PSC. "We're still pending late filed information from Geronimo Wind."

Lien said the PSC would make a decision on the case as soon as the new information was received.

"We are working with the parties that provided additional information to resolve their concerns," Engelking said. "When that is wrapped, we will get the information to the PSC."

In order for the project to qualify for tax credits, some work or equipment purchases must be done before the end of the year.

"We must either have substantial construction of a physical nature or incur costs of at least 5 percent of the project," Engelking said.

Substantial construction could be defined as upgrading the haul roads and building access roads to the planned turbine locations. The company could incur costs by purchasing turbines or entering into agreements with contractors to purchase cable and other components for the project. Purchased components would have to be delivered to the construction area by March or April to qualify.

"We plan on starting road construction this fall," Engelking said. "And begin work on the wind project when the load limits come off the roads in the spring."

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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